The Dance Place celebrating after 35 years
From humble beginnings in a church hall, to now three studios and around 200 dancers, The Dance Place in Blackpool is celebrating 35 years.
And dance teacher Lian Wray followed in her mum Gail’s footsteps by taking the helm, with her dad Ian – after Gail died from breast cancer when Lian was 19.
Now 38 and a mum herself, Lian has devoted her time and energy to growing the family-run firm and says she could not be prouder.
“My mum and dad started out teaching in local church halls before they got the premises on Rawcliffe Street.
“It was flats when they got it, but they saw the potential in it. It was a very tiny studio to start with.
“I can remember as a child and to see it now as three studios is amazing.
“My mum taught me dancing from the age of two.
“I did competitions and shows.
“I can remember dancing in that studio when I was little. I loved it.
“When my mum passed away from breast cancer, I was 19 at the time.
“I had always wanted to teach dance, and I took over running the Dance Place with my dad.
“I absolutely love it, it’s the best job in the world.
“It’s so rewarding. I loved being on-stage, but I love creating choreography and I love seeing the children perform it.
“I enjoy listening to music and thinking about what choreography we can put to it. Some people ask if I miss being on-stage myself. But for me, seeing the kids on-stage and seeing them grow and improve is just the best feeling.
“We have children right through from age two to 16, with some staying later.
“We have had students go to performing arts colleges, to go on to perform in the West End and all around the world.
“We do an annual show called Dance Sparkle which shows off what the children have learned throughout the year.
“My dad has just turned 79 and he is still involved, singing, doing the shows – he just loves it.
“And we work really well together. We are really excited this is the Dance Place’s 35th year.
“I intend to keep doing this until I’m 70, at least!”